Michelle Smirnova

Michelle Smirnova
Associate Professor
Humanities and Social Sciences

Contact Info
Manheim 304C
How institutions such as medicine, science, the nation-state, and media differentially construct bodies, behaviors, and identities and how actors react to, cope with, or resist these definitions; Digital and Public Humanities


Dr. Michelle Smirnova is an Associate Professor of Sociology and affiliate faculty member of Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies and UMKC's Center for Digital and Public Humanities. Dr. Smirnova’s first book, “The Prescription to Prison Pipeline: An Intersectional Analysis of the Medicalization and Criminalization of Pain” (Duke University Press), challenges a simplistic understanding of nonmedical use as abuse and asks us to broaden our focus from substances to structural environments to better understand root causes and solutions. She accomplishes this by tracing how structural inequalities produce unequal levels of pain and unequal access to healthcare, how pain itself is increasingly medicalized, and how the ongoing War on Drugs produces and maintains axes of inequality along the lines of race, class, and gender.

Her second book explores how citizen scientists engage with and respond to institutional and cultural gatekeepers.

Finally, Dr. Smirnova is engaged in participatory research alongside Kansas City Tenants, a grassroots movement and city-wide tenant union fighting for safe, accessible and truly affordable housing for all.

Research interests:
medicine, science, technology, humor, social movements, and social inequality.

Body & Society
Introduction to Sociology
Culture, Emotion, and Identity
Social Theory
Sociology of Gender
Sociology of Medicine
Social Movements
Technology & Society
Graduate Qualitative Methods

Academic Credentials
PhD, Sociology, University of Maryland
MA, Sociology, University of Maryland
BA, International Studies & Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis